Rams WR Cooper Kupp, QB Stetson Bennett to miss season opener with injuries

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Rams receiver Cooper Kupp and backup quarterback Stetson Bennett will miss Los Angeles' season opener in Seattle on Sunday because of injuries.

Coach Sean McVay said the Rams are pondering whether to put Kupp on injured reserve for at least four weeks. The Super Bowl 56 MVP injured his hamstring during training camp in early August, and he had a setback last week.

“(Kupp) wants to be out there with his teammates, and he puts so much into it,” McVay said. “It’s so unfortunate. It’s been frustrating.”

Kupp, a Washington state native who turned 30 in June, went to Minnesota over the weekend to see a specialist about his injury, which isn't responding typically to treatment. McVay ruled out his top receiver after meeting with him Wednesday morning.

“Really not much more information,” McVay said. “Just dealing with some soft-tissue stuff, just trying to get him to feel back to normal. When that ends up occurring, we'll have him back, but in the meantime, he will not be playing for us.”

Kupp missed the final eight games of last season with an ankle injury after piling up 75 catches for 812 yards in the first nine games. He had one of the most prolific offensive seasons in NFL history in 2021, winning the triple crown of receiving before leading the Rams to their Super Bowl victory over Cincinnati. He was named the Associated Press' NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

McVay said putting Kupp on injured reserve is “a possibility. We’ll look into that. We want to just give him a little bit of time. We don’t have to make that decision quite yet.”

Kupp’s injury deprives Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford of his favorite playmaker in an offense that struggled last season because of injuries to most of its top contributors.

“I know he's going to do everything he can to be as good as he possibly can, as quick as he can,” Stafford said. “He's as good of a professional as I've ever been around when it comes to taking care of his body and trying to get himself right, so I know it's disappointing for him to not be out there.”

Stafford played through injuries and barely participated in training camp last year before also getting shut down around midseason, but the veteran quarterback has been healthy and working with Los Angeles' other receivers this year. His top targets in Kupp’s absence are likely to be Van Jefferson, newcomer Demarcus Robinson, Tutu Atwell and rookie Puka Nacua.

“Cooper was out some of training camp as well, and we had some guys that had to step up and make plays for us,” Stafford said. “Through joint practices (and) practices against our defense, we've had a lot of guys step up. Total trust in everybody that's put out there. I'm excited for those guys' opportunities.”

Bennett has a right shoulder injury that will delay his potential NFL debut, McVay said. The two-time national champion at Georgia was expected to be Stafford's primary backup as a rookie after playing extensively in the Rams' preseason, but Bennett has been held out of recent workouts to rest his shoulder.

McVay said the shoulder injury has “been bothering (Bennett) on and off" for a couple of weeks.

Brett Rypien, who joined the Rams' practice squad after failing to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, will be Stafford's backup and the only other quarterback in uniform when the Rams face Seattle. McVay said the Rams will consider signing a third quarterback if Bennett's injury persists.

Tight end Hunter Long also will miss the season opener with a thigh injury. The Rams acquired Long and a third-round pick used on edge rusher Byron Young when they traded All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins last March.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL